Migratory bird hunters will be able to put more in the freezer in the 2013-14 season following federal research that shows increases in the populations of many North American game birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and wildlife agencies from Canada and Caribbean nations set annual benchmark harvest limits, using hunters and other tools to manage international migratory bird populations. A recent change in federal regulations will permit Pennsylvania hunters to substantially increase possession limits for most migratory game birds from two to three times the former daily bag limits.
In most areas, the September season for resident Canada geese will keep the daily bag limit of eight, but the possession limit has increased to 24. The state Game Commission reported its research shows eight years of relaxed regulation of Canada geese has stabilized that troublesome population -- the 2013 estimate is close to the eight-year average of 265,905, but still substantially higher than the management goal of 150,000.
In a triple split season, the mourning dove daily bag limit is 15, with a possession limit of 45. The state woodcock season retains its longer format and three daily limit, but the possession limit has increased to nine. Snipe: daily eight, 24 in possession. Virginia and sora rail: combined species three daily, nine in possession. Get details at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
Northwest wildlife management unit 1B has sold out its antlerless deer license allotment of 31,000 tags. 2B, with 62,000 available, has 60,551 remaining, and the new northcentral 2H, with an allotment of 6,000 tags, has 216 left. Most units still have plenty of tags, with the following exceptions: 4B (24,000 quota) 747 remaining. 4C (27,000) 775.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will open locks 6 and 7 at Freeport and Kittanning to recreational traffic this weekend and Aug. 10-11 from 12:30-8:30 p.m. Those locks are normally closed to recreational boaters. Warning buoys may have shifted in recent high water; the Corps encourages boaters to use caution when approaching the locks.
A new Pittsburgh fishing group will keep tournament mortality to a minimum during its Aug. 10 Allegheny River Ford City Tournament. The Western Pennsylvania Kayak Anglers competition is a CPR event: catch, photograph, release. Instead of a weigh-in, judges view images from the photo cards of contestants' digital cameras.
Check in is 6 a.m. at the Rosston Circle marina on the Allegheny River at the mouth of Crooked Creek, Armstrong County. $20 members, $30 nonmembers, with a portion of entry fees benefitting the wounded veterans of the Pittsburgh chapter of Heroes on the Water. Details at 724-989-1630 and www.kayak-anglers.com.
The state Fish and Boat Commission will hold a free Family Paddling Program 4-8 p.m. on Lake Wilhelm at Goddard State Park, Venango County. Designed for families with kids age 8 and older who are new to paddling, the program covers regulations, equipment and paddling safety skills. Pre-register through Friday at www.fishandboat.com, 814-683-5126.
The Neshannock Creek Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society will host its annual Conservation and Sportsmen's Banquet Friday at the Scott Township Fire Hall in Scott. Doors 5:30 p.m., dinner 7:30 p.m. Details 724-693-9032.huntingfishing